Teaching Kids About Good Leaders
Teaching kids about good leaders is important to set up role models for them to look up to. In addition, it can inspire admirable qualities to adapt to guide others and work more cooperatively with other people. Being a good leader or knowing a good leader are not innate. That is why educating children about leadership is key.
What is a leader?
By definition, a leader is a thing or a person that leads. A leader can guide a small or large group. Examples of leaders can be those who lead a small group for a class project, a teacher leading his/her class, a government official supporting his/her community, the head of an organization, a dancer leading the party line dance routine, a police officer guiding the squad, and a parent leading the children. There are so many examples of leaders around us taking on small to big actions.
What makes a good leader?
Being a “good” leader distinguishes someone from being a “leader.” There are examples of good and “not-so-good” leaders. Read about and seek out examples of good leaders with the kids. This is a first start to educating the children about leaders. My children and I read (affiliate link) 12 Political Leaders Who Changed the World by Matthew McCabe. It gives a snapshot of the lives of 12 exemplary leaders who impacted the lives of many. Among the list includes Susan B. Anthony, Martin Luther King Jr., George Washington, and Mahatma Gandhi.
From here, our next step was brainstorming what qualities make these people “good leaders?”
Here is the list my daughters came up with. I helped start them off, but was quite impressed with their abilities to come up with traits on their own based on the passages we read:
From here, we opened up the discussion of leaders we know in our own community. Leaders do not only exist on a nationwide, global, or political level. Using that “checklist” that my daughter created, they were able to name people in their lives who exemplify those traits.
How can we teach kids leadership skills?
Leadership skills are not always innate. For some, the ability and drive to guide others are natural and instinctual. For others, it may be inspired and taught. Therefore, just because a child is reserved and quiet, does not mean they can not be a leader one day. Although we do not want to force children to be leaders, especially if it is not in their interest nor aligns with their personality, there are ways to encourage leadership qualities and skills:
- Provide opportunities for group activities (such as team sports, theatrical/arts/dance troops, scouts, bands).
- Allow them to make choices and decisions for the family. Involve them in the planning process. (e.g. They can decide what game to play for a family night, brainstorm meal ideas, choose weekend activities for the family). As a further step, they can help delegate tasks to family members when ready.
- Talk about pros and cons of decision-making. Show them how to make a list of the good and bad aspects of specific decisions. This helps them with reasoning. This can be taken a step further as well if they want something that you may not fully approve of. They can come up with reasons to persuade you and pitch the idea to you.
- Discuss goals (individual and for the family). This helps them to see purpose and actions to achieve goals.
- Set an example as a good leader. Kids pick up most of what we do as their parents/guardians.
Other Helpful Resources:
- (affiliate link) The Leader in Me: How Schools Around the World Are Inspiring Greatness, One Child at a Time
- LeadershipForKids website– Kid-friendly site with 450+ videos teaching kids about leadership qualities.